The Purpose of the Practice
Pillar of Peace: Conflict Transformation, Education
Commentary by Molly Mayfield Barbee
It’s Pesach for some, Holy Week for others, just after the Persian New Year for some, and another week at the end of March/beginning of April for many others. However you mark your days, it’s a good time to reflect a bit on the practices and values that guide our lives and decisions.
While pondering this topic I walked to my yoga class this week. Lately I’ve been so busy I’ve rarely had time to think intentionally about values or practices at all, let alone how they can help me grow and enhance my ability to handle conflict. It has just been: task in -> task out. TASK IN -> task out. And remembering to return to the breath, oh… occasionally.
But as usual, as soon as I let go a little bit of the task list, a message on the topic came to me with a little more clarity, a little more urgency.
And this is it: we have vast capacities for action and change on our own. There are reservoirs of energy and direction inside of each of us. And this is great. We have the power! BUT those capacities and reservoirs are tapped exponentially more effectively with the help of someone else–a friend, a colleague, a spiritual guide, a group, a community, a congregation.
For example, I practice yoga to try to keep the channel to my inner resources for peacebuilding open. It challenges me to works toward strength and flexibility at the same time. To breathe and be fully present even in the most uncomfortable situations. And I practice at home on my own, but on those days that I make it to a class or a club, the lessons I learn reach me at a deeper level. There’s something about the collective effort and commitment that amplifies the effects of the practice.
A wide variety of spiritual practices can help us get to this increased awareness and improve our access to the core of energy inside. They are practices because they require that we do them again and again. And again. Cultural and religious holidays and traditions can be reminders for us that such practices, in whatever form, are essential to our spiritual growth and directly related to our ability to be with, breathe in, and get through the challenges and conflicts that life brings–large and small.
So it is with gratitude that I looked up from my task list this week, shared virtually in the seders of my Jewish friends, listened to New Year traditions from my Persian friends, and observed preparations all around me for Easter this coming weekend. And I am reminded of the purpose and importance of spiritual practices as I strive to teach and learn principles for peacebuilding that make a difference in my life and with those who are also seeking.
Now you’ve read a little bit about my practices–at least for this week. I’d love to read some more about yours. What are your tools for tapping your inner resources for peace?